Breaking the Ice
13 Dec 2004
I quite often win a raffle prize. This is a function of the number of raffle tickets I buy – large - and the odds of each one winning a prize – smaller. When I empty my pockets at the weekend, there are enough tickets to supply the cloakroom at the Savoy for a fortnight; except, of course, the counterfoils are scattered across North West Hampshire. And in the kitchen at home, there are the products of the tickets - bottles.
Prizes in North West Hampshire tend to be bottle-shaped; indeed, I have won the same bottle more than once and some do the rounds. “Aha - the Francois d’Aubigne Vin Mousseux Brut, we must be in Baughurst.”
Last week, I won a prize that was not bottle-shaped. It was an electric ice scraper.
At the moment, when the car’s windscreen is obscured by ice, I fill the kettle up with warm water and sprinkle it over the windscreen and windows. The whole operation is manual, and takes about a minute. I assumed the electric ice scraper would save time. But then I read the instructions, reproduced below in inverted commas.

1. “Before using and after each use, wipe the unit clean with a soft cloth to remove any particles of dirt on element or casing.” Note the wording; it is not enough to have wiped it after the last occasion it was used; before using and after use. So before I can use it in the morning, it has to be groomed.


2. “To prevent the car battery from being exhausted, keep the engine running when the scraper is in use.” This means that, before the windscreen can be defrosted, I have to get into the car – not just to plug the ice scraper into the cigarette lighter; but also to fire the engine up.

We then progress to

3. “Please allow the unit to become hot before attempting to melt snow or ice.”
This means that, while the unit gets hot, its owner gets cold, sitting in a freezing car, waiting for the unit to acquire sufficient heat to enable it to discharge its function.

And then we have

4. “The metal heater SHOULD NEVER come into direct contact with the glass.”
This means painstaking application – using the skills of a barber – so the heater touches the wafer thin layer of ice, but not the glass underneath. Not the work of a moment on six large panes of glass.

We than graduate to

5. “Allow the product to cool thoroughly before storing.” So you can’t put it away in its box until it is cool; and then of course you have to do the other half of 1.

Someone else may be the fortunate winner of an electric ice-scraper at the next charity event I attend.

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